Mount Fuji Architects Studio - XXXX in Yaizu, Shizuoka, Japan Print
Wednesday, 05 May 2010 08:18


Call it ‘Atelier’ or just an enclosure; the project is intriguing to say the least. A restrained budget, a simplified construction method, a creative idea and the Space was created, stripped to its bare necessities, yet powerful in its statement. The architects became the builder, and in the process produced an innovative adaptable enclosure.

We enjoyed the way Mount Fuji recalls the process that they went through. As they explain; the client wished to build an atelier that can also be utilized as a gallery and display the ceramic art that he produced as a hobby.

“Automobile is our rival to beat” they explained. With mere 1.5 million Yen (11,000 € / $16,000) that the client had originally saved to purchase a Toyota Corolla as total budget, they started our project.

All images by Mount Fuji Architects Studio

“1.5 million Yen! Ridiculously small sum of money for building any kind of architecture. Yet, it's good sum if you're going to pay away in everyday life. At least it affords you a "mobile room" with fancy air conditioner, car navigation system and power window. Question arisen. Are we sure we properly translate the money into the quality of architecture? Can ever be born objects that embody beauty and rationality in such architectural world, which is highly specialized and socially defined? These kinds of skepticism were something that bothered us over years. That's why we felt great appeal for the small budget he offered.”
The architects had to re-think the tradition methods, considering a rational method of producing the structure. Their Motto of this project was like this: "Make great use of 1.5 million yen, and architecture gets ahead of automobile".


There’s no room for contractors when we think of our poor budget. Only option left was to design an architecture that can be built by the architects themselves, except a few processes that needed specialist’s hands. Fortunately the client offered help. He and his family once worked as designers for boats and ships and had the good craftsman’s sense in creating things.
Mt-Fuji-XX13Mt-Fuji-XX19Mount Fuji explains: “For this is a project with sparse budget, we need to build the atelier by ourselves and with:

1. the cheapest material,
2. the most efficient use,
3. the least varieties of material,
4. the least process,
5. the shortest period,
6. the simplest method, and create
7. the most functional space.

The answers for these were:

1. Utilize structural plywood with the size of 1800x900x12 (mm) as main material (in Japan, it’s highly distributed dimensional lumber).
2. Glue 4~5 sheets of plywood together to make a panel while keeping width 900mm (this process was outsourced to joiner).
3. Put the panel as structural material (pillar, beam and brace), finishing material (floor, wall and ceiling), insulation material and roof truss material.
4. Use the plywood as multipurpose material thus save many steps.
5. Devote 3 days of holiday season (May 3rd, 4th and 5th) for construction.
6. Joint the panel with mortise-tenon only (please refer to the detailed model to right)
7. Take full advantage of tubular structure which is well-ventilated and well-lighted. Repetitive X-shaped unit enables expansion at request so far as space permits (expansion is expected in near future).
Mt-Fuji-XX18Incline even frames to left, odd frames to right and join them alternately to form X-shaped structure. We thus achieved astylar tubular space (shifted-trussing structure, if we call it) with triangle-shaped slit for natural lighting. A frame is consisted of 4 kinds of panels. This is a structure that enables us to provide for future expansion just by adding another frame.

This architecture is a wooden monoshell construction when assembled. Pillar, beam, brace, finishing material, insulation material, sash frame, roof truss material… Plywood panels played all these roles at once and played very successfully. We built a monoshell construction that has hybrid functionality to reduce construction cost, period and process and to increase the value of design. After all we followed the same path that our rival -automobile- once passed. As a result of a pursuit of rationality, “White Box” that once said to be a design which ultimately represents rationality and abstraction of today’s modernism architecture started to be resolved to the more extent. Sunlight and breeze from outside brought the rationality to the existence of this object through triangle-shaped slits. As we see our work perfectly fit into the God’s rich work, we assured the rhythm of the shaded w 900 panels praise our challenge.”
The building site is located on urbanization control area in Yaizu-shi, Shizuoka prefecture where weather is mild throughout the whole year. The structure is now sitting on southwest corner of the client’s place, south of his house, next to a park that offers a great view with an abundance of trees and plants. It is expected that the In our client expands the modular system and produce a cozy little guesthouse in near future.
As the architects conclude: “Considering the primary function of the structure as an atelier to create ceramic art, lighting and ventilation was essential. At the same time, the architecture had to be built with the minimum quantity of affordable material and limited manpower, in the simplest and shortest process to reduce construction cost. We put long axes east-west and opened each end. Assembled structure forms a tube with triangle slits thus ensures well-lighted, well-ventilated and hard-to-break space. This structure consists of repetitive unit and will help us much in responding to a possible request for extension.”
Mt-Fuji-XX11Project details:
Title: XXXX in Yaizu, Shizuoka, Japan
: atelier
: Yaizu, Shizuoka, Japan
Site area
Building area
Total floor area:
Building height:

Architecture: Masahiro Harada + Mao / Mount Fuji Architects Studio

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 January 2011 10:07